[REVIEW] Red Rising – Pierce Brown

Characters – 5/5
Plot – 5/5
Style – 5/5
World-building – 5/5
Science – 4/5
Overall -5/5


I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.

Darrow is a Red. All he and his people have known is hard work, danger and oppression, risking life and limb in the mines of Mars so that one day the surface may become habitable for the Higher Colours; the Browns, Greens, Obsidians and the ruling Golds. Except Mars has been habitable and inhabited for years, in fact, so have Venus, Earth’s Moon and many of Jupiter’s moons.

They were told they were pioneers, but the Reds are nothing more than slaves.

When a series of tragic events leads Darrow into the arms of rebel group The Sons of Ares, he agrees to join their efforts to free the Reds and take down the Golds from within. He was a Helldiver of Lykos and now he about to become a whole lot more.

At its core, RED RISING is a classic tale. The oppressed become strong and rebel against their oppressors in order to take charge of their own lives and create a better, more equal society. I’ve read this plot countless times, but never seen it so skillfully executed as in RED RISING; everything about this novel was practically perfection. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the story exciting and the pace was excellent. I was hooked from the first page and the action didn’t let up until the very end. I wanted more the moment I’d finished reading; the wait for GOLDEN SON is going to be absolute agony!

Firstly, the style of RED RISING is exactly what I’ve been craving recently. I’ve noticed that a lot of Fantasy/Scifi aimed at young adults has taken a turn towards simpler language and grammar, and while I don’t have a problem with this after reading book after book in this tone it becomes a little same-y. I needed something refreshing I could really get stuck into and RED RISING certainly gave me that. The writing is very strong and so rich in detail that becoming part of the story was easy, Darrow’s emotions became mine and his world was vivid and bright.

The world-building was a thing of beauty. From the rough mines of Mars to the extravagance of Mount Olympus every setting was clear in my mind and I could visualise it all in detail. I loved the contrast of Darrow’s humble beginnings against the backdrop of the Golds. It’s obvious RED RISING draws a lot of inspiration from the stories of Greek and Roman mythology, which I’m a huge fan of. I appreciated the references to various Gods and their personality traits and liked to see how they compared to the original characters in the myths.

While the science and technology isn’t particularly explored in-depth, I didn’t feel like it made a huge impact on the storyline. There weren’t any outrageous gaps between the unexplained technology of Mars and what is actually possible (considering we’re already living and breathing on another planet here) so I was quite comfortable with the kind of weapons, armour and tricks at play.

To me, the whole story encompasses the theme of evolution, growth and change alongside lovely philosophical nuggets about leadership. Darrow undergoes not only an extreme physical transformation but also a gradual, creeping emotional growth as his experiences of the world jump from the lowest point of society to the privilege of the Golds. I love this deeper, more meaningful aspect to the novel which is something a lot of current novels are potentially lacking; it really rounds out the book and makes it feel worth reading.

The trauma and change Darrow goes through really makes you root for him despite the extraordinarily difficult choices he has to make in order to succeed. He’s ultimately likeable but does have a full personality complete with both endearing features and foibles; he’s as complex as his motives and struggles to learn about himself as the story moves forward. The other characters also seem well-rounded as a whole, Darrow meets an enormous cast throughout the book but there has been time and care taken with each one to ensure they make a valuable contribution to Darrow’s journey; positive and negative.

RED RISING feels like THE HUNGER GAMES went to Big Boy School and grew up; a story of betrayal, rebellion and revenge that definitely doesn’t pull its punches. If you only give this genre one chance to impress you then let it RED RISING be the book to do it.


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